February 18, 2018

Strategy for the Western Balkans: EU sets out new initiatives

The Commission adopted in Strasbourg on February 6th a strategy for ‘A credible enlargement perspective for an enhanced EU engagement with the Western Balkans’.

As President Juncker announced in his 2017 State of the Union address, the Commission strategy focused on the European future of the region as a geostrategic investment in a stable, robust and united Europe. Prioritizing areas of joint reinforced cooperation, and good neighbourly relations, the rule of law, reinforced cooperation on security and migration through joint investigating teams and the European Border and coast guard, expanding the EU Energy Union to the Western Balkans or lowering roaming charges and rolling out broadband in the region.
The President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker stated: ”Investing in the stability and prosperity of the Western Balkans means investing in the security and future of our Union. Although there will be no further enlargements under this mandate, today the European Commission is charting the European path ahead for the Western Balkans. With a strong political will, real and sustained reforms, and definitive solutions to disputes with neighbors, the Western Balkans can move forward on their respective European paths. Whether this is achieved will depend on their objective merits. The European Commission will be rigorous, but it will also be fair. I will travel to each of the countries of the Western Balkans at the end of this month with a clear message: keep reforming, and we will keep supporting your European future.”

High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini commented:“The Western Balkans are part of Europe: we share the same history, the same geography, the same cultural heritage and the same opportunities and challenges today and in the future. We have a common interest in working more and more closely together to guarantee to our people economic and social development and security. This strategy shows the path that we have ahead of us: for all our six partners to overcome once and for all the past, for all of us together to make the process of the Western Balkans towards the European Union irreversible and keep reuniting the Continent. This Strategy gives all of us a shared, clear, unequivocal, credible and concrete perspective for every one of our six partners’ EU integration. The next months will be not only intense but also crucial to make sure that this historic and unique opportunity is seized.”

Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn stressed: “Today we confirm that the door of our Union is open for the Western Balkans which is already an enclave surrounded by the EU and that our offer is sincere. With the new approach, underpinned by concrete measures, we are strengthening the enlargement process which requires credible efforts and reforms in return in particular to strengthen the rule of law. We have to work for the benefit of the citizens.”

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